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Lancashire ‘Covid heroes’ paid more than £2.5m to park at work in 2020

Written by on January 12, 2021

Staff at Lancashire hospitals paid more than £2.5 million pounds to park at work last year.

Parking tickets, permits and fines for staff brought in £2..87 million at hospital trusts covering Lancashire in 2019/20, according to figures from NHS Digital.

On top of this, patients and visitors paid £9.1 million to park last year – leaving a £6.1 million profit after the £4.3 million cost of parking services across all the trusts.

In March 2020, the UK Government announced financial support for all trusts to provide free car parking for staff during the coronavirus outbreak, while councils were encouraged to also provide free spaces.

But a union has claimed some trusts are charging for parking again.

Post-pandemic plans would require fewer people to pay for parking, but staff on some shift patterns could still be charged.

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust saw the biggest income from parking charges – £3.6 million from patients and visitors, and £0.8 million from staff.

It costs an average of £1.83 per hour for patients and visitors to park at the trust’s sites. Staff paid an average of 6p an hour.

Staff are more likely to have parking permits – so, for example, if they are paying £2.40 a day, that would equate to 10p per hour.

The most expensive charges locally for staff were £1.05 per hour at Furness General, Royal Lancaster and Westmoreland General hospitals. That was a 98p per hour increase compared to 2018/19.

Across England, NHS trusts raked in £90 million from staff parking last year. That was up from £86 million in 2018/19.

Just over a quarter of NHS sites (353) charge staff to park. Most of these (302) are run by hospital trusts.

Just 15 hospital sites stopped charging staff to park last year.

A mental health unit in Suffolk was the most expensive place for staff to park at £2.50 per hour, while St George’s at Queen Mary’s Hospital was the most expensive hospital for staff parking at £2 per hour.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “Charging dedicated NHS staff to park at work is disgraceful at the best of times. In the middle of a pandemic it is sickening..

“Government cuts have inflicted a heavy toll on the NHS, but Trusts should not be clawing that cash back by charging the people we rely on to keep us alive.

“GMB persuaded the Government to scrap parking charges for all health and social care staff at the start of the pandemic. But now many are charging once again.

“Ministers must now support our healthcare heroes by enforcing free hospital staff parking and scrapping plans to reintroduce charges once the pandemic ends.”

NHS Trusts also brought in £199 million from patient and visitor parking in 2019/20, up from £186 million a year before.

Overall, providing parking services cost trusts £70 million in 2019/20.

On January 1 this year, it became mandatory for hospital trusts to offer blue badge holders and frequent outpatients with long-term conditions free parking all day, as well as parents of sick children staying in hospital overnight and staff working night shifts.
However, because of the ongoing pandemic, and possible capacity issues for sites currently offering free parking to all staff, there will be flexibility in rolling this out.

The full breakdown of charges across Lancashire trusts:

Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – £1,471,270 from visitors – £454,599 from staff

University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay Trust – £843,637 from visitors – £328,885 from staff

Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – £3,594,669 from visitors – £743,728 from staff

East Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – £2,126,493 from visitors – £788,054 from staff

Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust – £1,117,121 from visitors – £563,210 from staff

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